Pastor Erik Hines is the President of Vertava Health of Tennessee. As an ordained pastor and recovery coach, Erik has decades of experience in managing Christian rehabs and faith-based treatment programs and helping people heal from drug and alcohol addictions. Erik believes that recovery from addiction is possible at Christian rehabs, including his own, but has seen many programs that fail the person struggling with addiction, despite the best intentions. These are his reasons to believe those programs are ineffective.
3 Reasons Christian Rehabs Don’t Work
Most people who find themselves in need of addiction rehab are in the midst of one of the toughest and most debilitating seasons of their lifetime. The faith-based approach to addiction recovery can be one of the most effective ways to help addicts and alcoholics find lasting freedom and sobriety. While most Christian rehabs may have the greatest intentions, they can also make some monumental mistakes in the process of recovery. Over the past 20 years of experiencing and then managing Christian rehabs, I have seen and learned from these mistakes.
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These three major flaws can render a faith-based recovery center useless.
1. Being Performance-Based.
So many times, I have seen Christian programs represent Christianity as more of an employment obligation rather than a relationship! When it comes to treating addiction, we must meet people right where they are and usher them into a successful lifestyle of recovery and sobriety. It isn’t healthy to demand that they start living like a mature Christian because they haven’t had the time to understand what the lifestyle of a mature Christian looks like. When these high expectations are placed on a person trying to recover from addiction, the faith-based program fails: the addict begins to feel like their relationship with God is based on their performance – and that it is unobtainable. Faith-based programs must embrace the fact that mistakes are a part of recovery. Every person must feel as if they are in a place where the program and staff will give grace for their mistakes AND lead them into successful living. Once someone knows they are accepted despite their shortcomings, they will be inspired to strive for better living.
2. No Grace for Symptoms of Addiction.
It has always discouraged me when I see Christian recovery programs dismissing a client because of relapse while in recovery. I have managed a recovery center for over a decade and realize that there are safety concerns when someone relapses in the program. However, there is a balance that must be considered anytime someone relapses, because relapse is simply a symptom of their addiction. If someone goes to the hospital for the treatment of an ailment, the hospital will not discharge you when you show symptoms of the ailment you came to be treated for. Faith-based recovery programs must understand that we operate a hospital, where sick people come for healing, not a museum! As a faith-based program, we at Vertava Health of Tennessee always try to show the right amount of grace needed to inspire confidence balanced with the right amount of accountability to promote successful living.
3. Not open-minded to advise from secular sources.
Through my years of leading a Christian rehab, I’ve seen many faith-based recovery centers demonstrate an inability to take advice from other addiction professionals. Even as a licensed addiction recovery coach and the leader of a faith-based rehab, I can openly admit that there are still things that we are still learning about addiction. However, we strive to understand and apply new methods of recovery in order the be the absolute best – including methods from secular sources. This isn’t the case with all Christian programs. Often times, Christian programs view the secular approach to recovery as counterproductive to their message and will often discredit and even disregard medical or empirical-based advice to addiction recovery. As a faith-based program, we must understand that we are not the only people who want to see people successfully treated. God has given doctors, nurses and therapist some great insights on the neurological and physiological effects of addiction, therefore faith-based recovery centers should understand that they can embrace the studies and findings from secular programs and sources without compromising their message of hope.
The faith-based approach to addiction recovery can be one of the best and most effective ways to treat addiction if we keep an open mind, are willing to accept people just as they are and are willing to lead people into a relationship with a loving and compassionate God.
Healing at Christian rehab is possible – we see healing every day in Erik’s program at Vertava Health of Tennessee. Not all faith-based programs are created the same, and many Christian programs are successful. We urge you to find a program that is right for you. If you’re looking for help with a drug or alcohol addiction and want to learn more about Erik’s program, call 888.614.2251.